Six suspects have been arrested in Rachuonyo North Sub County for allegedly engaging in illegal sand harvesting.
The arrests followed a raid conducted by the National Environment Management Authority officials jointly with security officers drawn from various units in Homa-Bay County.
Rachuonyo North Deputy County commissioner Aron Koros and the county NEMA Director Josiah Nyandoro led the crackdown.
This follows a move by the government last week to ban sand harvesting in at least three villages in Wang Chieng Ward, Rachuonyo North Sub County. Some of the villages include Kobuya, Osodo and Rakwaro.
Koros and Nyandoro led a team which visited the areas and closed the sites because of illegal sand harvesting. In their assessment, the team noted there was high level of environmental degradation caused by the illegal mining activities.
Nyandoro said they agreed to start controlling sand harvesting activities in the area to protect the environment and benefit residents.
He said NEMA is alert and will continue with the crackdown on the sites and arrest people perpetrating outlawed activities, adding, the six arrested individuals were found to have violated environmental laws while harvesting sand.
“Four people were arrested for operating at a site that is not licensed. We’ll continue with a curb to ensure illegal sand harvesting is completely eradicated in Homa Bay,” Nyandoro said.
He said mining sites should be subjected to an environmental impact assessment before anyone begins mining activities, observing the closed sites are not licensed.
The director said they are going to extend the crackdown to illegal stone quarries, noting, some people were engaging in illegal stone excavation in Rachuonyo North, Rangwe and Rachuonyo South sub counties.
“llegal mining damages roads, destroys pipes at water projects, digs out electricity poles and increases soil erosion during rains as sands are scooped,” Nyandoro said.
“They damage roads and interfere with communication. We’ll continue arresting people and charging them,” Nyandoro said.
On his part, Koros said they want to promote sustainable sand harvesting which is beneficial to everybody.
“We must advocate for environmental protection to enable all to benefit,” he stressed.
Kobuya location chief Damianus Osano said they are working closely with NEMA officials to ensure they protect properties and the environment.
He said some houses have collapsed while graves have been dug out due to excessive sand harvesting.
“We’re asking residents not to be involved in illegal activities because they will be arrested,” Osano said.
By Davis Langat